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Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

Score: 77%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Activision
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe seemed to fly under the radar for a lot of people. The reaction it got from a Spider-Man fan, and my significant other, was, "Oh. I didn't even know about this." So, I don't think I can knock this game for over-hype. In fact, it seems like this game may be a forerunner for the upcoming Spider-Man cartoon coming out next year called, "The Spectacular Spider-Man."

The cartoon promotion theory explains the cartoony look of the game. Spider-Man and his crew here have chunky, cartoon-like proportions. It's not as exaggerated as the official art you'll see in the gallery, but you can still see the influence in the game. Either way, the art matches up with the mood of the game, which is pretty light-hearted and humorous, even compared to other Spider-Man games.

There are a few CG cut scenes, but most of the story is driven by in-game graphics. Voice-acting is pretty lively and realistic, which is a relief. It could have gone much worse. This game teeters right on the edge of cheesy and corny, but never quite falls all the way in. Spider-Man here is funny, in an almost cute way. If they take it all in stride, this is a game that will get a few laughs out of the older crowd as well as the younger audience.

While you'll get to see a lot of Spider-Man's friends and major foes, the lesser enemies in the game are quite dull. Monsters called Phantoms are going to be your foe 95% of the time. There are basically several variations on 3 main baddie types: big and tall Phantoms, people-sized Phantoms, and flying Phantoms. It gets monotonous - quickly.

As for the rest of the game, the music is unobtrusive, and the sound effects are pretty decent. Big explosions, thuds, thwacks, and swooshes are all there and hit hard like they should, but don't provide any surprises, really.


Spider-Man: Friend or Foe's story revolves around shards from a meteor that have landed in various locations around the world. It wasn't just any meteor though. This chunk of rock happened to be part of the group that contained the symbiote that later became Venom. Anywhere these new shards have landed, the menacing Phantoms have appeared. In the midst of all this chaos, Spider-Man gets a visit from Colonel Nick Fury. He asks Spider-Man to help him recover the shards and start to sort out the mess.

And that's where the "friend or foe" part comes into play. The shards have disrupted the lives of Spider-Man's allies and enemies alike. They each join Spider-Man to further their goals, but for different reasons. What that means for the player is a variety of playable characters. The characters, along with several other features, have to be unlocked by playing through the Story Mode.

Spider-Man: FoF features one main mode of play, Story Mode, with the option for a buddy to jump in. Basically, while you are fighting through the game as Spider-Man, you will always have a partner along with you. When you are on your own, the partner is a CPU character of your choice. Conveniently, a friend can join in at any time to play the second character. They can also drop out of play at any time and give control back to the CPU. It's a nice feature that does keep the action going. It's important to note, however, that someone always has to be Spider-Man, so it's not like there will be multiple storylines to play through as the other characters.


Spider-Man: FoF does not have a changeable difficulty level, so the experience is pretty easy. Enemies are predictable, so with a little bit of concentration you can breeze through the game pretty easily. If you doze off a bit, you'll probably die a few times, but the penalty is only a loss of tokens. You always have a sidekick playing next to you in Story Mode, but the CPU is not as bright as you need them to be (i.e. falling off cliffs and rarely using special attacks). It's much easier when you have a live friend helping you, especially in boss battles.

Game Mechanics:

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe feels like an arcade-style beat-em-up. You punch, kick, throw, rinse and repeat, ad nauseam. Enemies are pretty easy to keep at bay, and the only real difficulty comes in with the mid-bosses and main bosses. It's not hard to figure out how to kill the next bad guy, it's just a matter of staying interested enough to do that. The incentive to do well is tokens. When you die, you lose tokens. You can obtain more tokens by keeping your combo level up. After each level, you can spend your tokens on character upgrades like power and health. Goodies like hidden artwork and Versus Arenas are hidden throughout the game, but they aren't exactly hard to find.

Controls are fairly solid, but light on the motion controls. They are there, but they aren't integral to playing the game. I think that's for the best, as these types of beat-em-up games don't seem to take to motion controls too well. Basically, you have the option to modify your regular moves with a swing of the Wii-mote. Speaking of Spider-Man's abilities, he simply has more moves than any other character. There just isn't as much to learn with the other characters because they don't have as much depth. In fact, a few characters seem to have identical move sets. For instance, I was hard pressed to find any difference at all between Black-Suited Spider-Man and regular Spider-Man, or Green Goblin and New Goblin. If simplicity is what you want, this is definitely what is delivered.

Versus mode is something that gives this game much needed replay value, but it can't work miracles. You're using the same fighting system as you use in the main game, and usually it feels like a game of rock-paper-scissors. Hilariously enough, no matter how strong your character is, boxes and rocks can be the deadliest weapons here. Let me put it to you another way: no one really wins in Versus mode.

Spider-Man: FoF is short and simple. It's possible to tackle this game in a weekend and unlock everything. There's not much replay value, even with the Versus Mode. Still, there is some mindless fun to be had here. If you need a Spider-Man title that's light on story, complexity, and drama, but heavy on the bad-guy smashing, here's your game.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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